Makeup in the eyes

Most of us don't consider the potentially harmful effects of our favorite beauty products when applying mascara, eyeliner,  or other makeup near the eye.
 From irritation to eye infections, it is easy for harsh chemicals, bacteria and fungi to hide within your makeup.

Makeup in the eyes in Olympia

How can makeup irritate your eyes?

Small flakes, glitter or pieces of makeup in the eye

A makeup product that can flake into your eyes, such as mascara,glitter based makeups and powdered shadow, is the most potentially irritating. Women who wear cakey, flaky mascara have particles of it on the surface of their eye lids. These pieces can cause irritation, infection, corneal scratches, and discomfort. 

Eye Allergies caused by makeup

Our eyes are sensitive, and for some people makeup that gets into or too close to the eyes can lead to an allergic reaction. If you notice irritation, itchiness, redness, or other allergic reactions stop using that makeup and if it continues then seek professional help. 

Eye Infections caused by makeup

Old or expired makeup is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus that can lead to an eye infection. Another common cause of eye infections is when two people share makeup, and the first person has an eye infection. If you suspect an eye infection, schedule an emergency eye exam today by calling our office at (360) 491-2121.


American Family Vision Clinic

Makeup got in my eyes, what should I do?

Do not panic if you accidentally get makeup in your eyes. Follow these instructions:

  • Rinse your eyes thoroughly with clean tap water or eye-wash solution until all mascara, eyeliner, and makeup flakes are removed. If you wear contact lenses, take them out before flushing your eyes.
  • Once you've rinsed off your makeup, apply moisturizing eye drops to the affected eye.
  • Clean your contact lenses carefully using your cleaning solution if you wear contact lenses.
  • While your eye is still irritated, avoid re-inserting your contact lenses.

Why shouldn’t you apply makeup inside your eyelids?

Those who love this technique, which is sometimes called waterlining, should know that it blocks the oil glands responsible for protecting your cornea. Additionally, it can transmit bacteria directly into the eye.

Pilot studies have shown that particles from eyeliner can contaminate the eye if they are applied inside the lids. Researchers concluded that even though particles were cleared away by the eye in a few hours, contact lens wearers and people with sensitive eyes or dry eyes may experience problems due to this. It is important to maintain the health of these oil glands (called meibomian glands), as blocking the glands for extended periods of time can lead to the glands atrophying an no longer being able to produce the necessary oil layer for your tear film. 

Why shouldn’t you apply makeup inside your eyelids?
What safety tips should you follow when using eye cosmetics?

What safety tips should you follow when using eye cosmetics?

  • Eyeliner should be applied outside the lash line, away from the eyes, to avoid direct contact of the product with them. Additionally, the liner will be less likely to flake off into the eyes.
  • Make sure the wood casing on eyeliner pencils is sharpened so the eye or eyelid won't be scratched. With time, the tip of the pencil becomes rigid, requiring more pressure to apply. You should replace the pencil once this occurs.
  • It's a good idea to replace your makeup products every six months (more often if you wear contact lenses) to prevent excessive contamination with skin bacteria.
  • Using an old applicator with a fresh cosmetic product is not recommended. The old applicator will transfer bacteria to the new cosmetic.
  • Purchase new eye makeup after any type of eye infection, such as conjunctivitis.
  • Eye makeup removers may irritate the eyes, even though they were designed to be used around the eye. Apply them with care to the eyelid and avoid getting the product in your eyes.


What safety tips should you follow when using eye cosmetics?
  • Never apply makeup to your eyes while driving. You may accidentally poke your eye with the applicator if you crash or make a sudden stop.
  • You should never use saliva to thin old or clumped makeup or to wet a mascara wand. The saliva in your mouth contains bacteria.
  • You should not share your eye cosmetics with others. The skin of each individual is different. You may become infected if you contaminate your cosmetics with another person's bacteria.
  • Make sure the cosmetics demonstrator uses fresh applicators and not to let a used sample come into direct contact with you at the counter.
  • If you suspect that you have cosmetic-related eye problems, contact our eye doctors at (360) 491-2121.



Common Questions

You can irritate your eyes with certain makeup products. The following makeup products are recommended by eye care specialists: All products that are hydrating, hypoallergenic, and free of fragrances and dyes. You should avoid alcohol-based products because they can dry out your eyes. Thickening mascara has less of a chance of flaking after it dries. Make use of an eyelash curler instead of mascara.
Makeup is not cheap, but keeping makeup past its expiration date ends up costing far more than replacing the makeup. Look on the product for an expiration date, but if you are unable to find one then the following are general recommendations. Mascara 4 months, Pencils 1-2 years, eye shadow cream months, eye liner 4 months.
Eye makeup, in particular mascara, creates a moist environment that is ideal for bacteria to thrive. As a result, you are at risk of developing conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Therefore, liquid or creamy eye makeup, including mascara and eyeliner, should be disposed of after three months. In the event that your eye makeup becomes contaminated or if you develop pink eye, you should dispose of it as soon as possible and visit our eye doctor at American Family Vision Clinic.
Makeup in the eyes
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

If a piece of makeup is stuck in your eye, or if you accidentally poked yourself in the eye with an eyeliner pencil, or if you are suffering from dry eyes as a result of makeup getting in your eye and you have tried everything described above and nothing seems to help, then you should visit us for an emergency eye exam before your eyes are further damaged. For an emergency eye exam, please call (360) 491-2121 or visit American Family Vision Clinic. Patients with eye emergencies visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of urgent eye care for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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